Alumni as Mentors Programme: An opportunity to get real industry advice

Alumni as Mentors Programme: An opportunity to get real industry advice

Student Jemma Rose Hovelmeier reflects on her time in the Victoria University of Wellington Alumni as Mentors Programme.

Jemma working on a waste management project at the Wellington City Council Tip Shop

Entering my final year of study, my excitement began to be overtaken by the looming question of ‘what’s next?’ Everyone from my mum’s colleagues to my Uber driver seemed to be invested.  I already had a reliable part-time job and a strong ambition to work in an environmental field so I decided to address my mounting anxiety and enrol in the Alumni as Mentors Programme (AAM).

I found out about the programme from an email from Victoria Careers and Employment and learned that it was a resource the University provides to put students in touch with industry professionals to provide mentoring during their final year of study. 

Applications are open now for the 2020 Alumni as Mentors Programmes

Unfortunately for me, the Wellington programme was full, crushing my vision of meeting with a woke environmental yo-pro for coffees on the Terrace and lining-up a job for after grad. So when I received an email asking if I wanted to join the Online AAM, I was hesitant that the Skype calls would be awkward, and I wouldn’t be able to connect and share anything with the stranger on my screen. I nearly didn’t reply to the email, but I’m now so grateful I did.

Jemma celebrating with friends at their graduation. Jemma will be graduating in May 2020.

My mentor, Jonathan Srikanthan, lived over in Sydney and was energetic and relatable. We kept in touch by email and then met regularly over Zoom to discuss my goals, challenges, and career aspirations. He wasn’t an expert on waste minimisation or resource consents but he went above and beyond to ask questions and challenge me to reflect on what I really want to give to the world. I felt motivated to think about what my mentor shared with me because I wanted to reciprocate the effort he put into the mentoring relationship and grow as much as I could. 

I appreciate having had the opportunity to discuss career planning and progression with my mentor who was knowledgeable, personable, and committed to helping me. With his support I was able to identify my skills, explore what a fulfilling career would look like. That gave me the confidence and support to secure a more meaningful and challenging permanent role in waste minimisation at my current work–the role I secured is set to continue into next year. 

The AAM team have awesome resources to help write that awkward first email and prompt discussion when you lose motivation. They consistently check-in and have designed a programme that supports your transition out of university into the big world. 

I would totally recommend that anyone approaching their final year of study take the step and apply to Alumni as Mentors. There is literally a list of Victoria Alumni who have been asked “what’s next” and want to help you prepare for the next chapter after university, which I am now super excited for.

Jemma Hovelmeier Bachelor of Science in Environmental studies (ENVI), Geography (GEOG), and Māori Resource Management (MREM), and was a member of the 2019 Alumni as Mentors Programme

Interested in sharing your experience? Read our submission guidelines and get in touch with your story ideas.